You may not agree with David Roberts' politics, but you might be able to relate to his situation. He's burned out. He works a lot. He misses his family. And so he's doing something drastic: He's shutting down his email, not answering his phone, and taking a year off.
"As of Labor Day weekend, I am going underground," the blogger for the liberal climate change site Grist.org writes in a candid blog post. "I won’t be writing for Grist (or anyone else); I won’t be reading or responding to email; I won’t be on Twitter; I won’t be following the news cycle or reading PDFs; I won’t be spending all day every day attached to a computer. I won’t be answering the phone, either, but then I never answered the phone anyway."
Don't get him wrong, he loves his job: "It has been a dream job." But he is "burnt the f**k out" and it's time to reorganize his priorities. Here's how he describes the current state of his life:
I spend each day responding to an incoming torrent of tweets and emails. I file, I bookmark, I link, I forward, I snark and snark and snark. All day long. Then, at night, after my family’s gone to bed and the torrent has finally slowed to a trickle and I can think for more than 30 seconds at a stretch, I try to write longer, more considered pieces.
I enjoy every part of this: I enjoy sharing zingers with Twitter all day; I enjoy writing long, wonky posts at night. But the lifestyle has its drawbacks. I don’t get enough sleep, ever. I don’t have any hobbies. I’m always at work. Other than hanging out with my family, it’s pretty much all I do — stand at a computer, immersing myself in the news cycle, taking the occasional hour out to read long PDFs. I’m never disconnected.
It’s doing things to my brain.
He not done there:
- "I think in tweets now. My hands start twitching if I’m away from my phone for more than 30 seconds."
- "I can’t even take a pee now without getting 'bored.' I know I’m not the only one tweeting in the bathroom."
- "I’m online so much that I’ve started caring about 'memes.'”
- "The online world, which I struggle to remember represents only a tiny, unrepresentative slice of the American public, has become my world. I spend more time there than in the real world, have more friends there than in meatspace."
- "I spend a lot of my time being angry: angry at Republicans for being crazy assholes, angry at enviros for being so hapless, angry at the media, angry at random people on Twitter."
- "I’ve gotten to the point where I’m irritated and impatient with pretty much everything everybody says about anything."
- "I want to think about things other than politics, the grinding, Manichean clash that never seems to go anywhere."
- "I want to quit viewing the vast expanse of human motivation and experience through the narrow lens of partisan advantage."
- "I want to hang out with flesh-and-blood people and do things out in nature and get reacquainted with physicality and beauty."
- "I want to spend more time with my kids and take over more of the household duties and make my wife’s life easier."
So instead of becoming increasingly bitter, he's doing something about it.
"I need some time away from all of it: from climate change, the media, blogs, commenters, Twitter, the news cycle, the endless battle for a livable future. I need to clear my head," Roberts writes.
"So I’m going to. As of Labor Day, I’m uninstalling Twitter and shutting off my email account. No more news or climate doom or memes for me for a while."
He plans on maybe trying Crossfit and writing a novel.
You can read more of his reasoning over at Grist.